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Biamping solution

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by bobbybox, Feb 28, 2005.

  1. bobbybox

    bobbybox
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    Hi

    I'm looking to have a crack at setting up a biamping solution but I would appreciate an informed view on these things!

    The kit I have is as follows:

    - Pioneer DVD (656A-S)
    - NAD C370 amp
    - Yamaha DSP-E800
    - Sky+ digibox
    - Panasonic TX-36PF10 36" CRT TV
    - KEF Concerto 2 speakers (2 pairs)
    - Eltax centre speaker (thinking of replacing soon)
    - Eltax A12 Subwoofer (thinking of replacing soon)
    - QED Silver anniversary speaker cable throughout
    - IXOS interconnects

    At the moment I play CDs directly into the CD input on the NAD with SACDs and DVDs going via the Yamaha for the 2 rear channels, centre channel and subwoofer and the front two channels being routed through the AUX input on the NAD.

    I'm generally pleased with the NAD C370 and would consider getting another of the same or a C270. I am interested in how much difference this would make to the overall clarity and detail of the sound and not the volume which is fine? Also, if biamping is worthwhile then should I look to upgrade my speakers cables?

    I see there is some debate about vertical and horizontal biamping. Can anyone explain this is layman's terms please?


    Many thanks and I look forward to your expert comments :)

    regards

    Rob
     
  2. pragmatic

    pragmatic
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    In my expereice bi amping does work quite well, it particularly helps with the bass, making it tighter and more musical i guess. The c270 would probably be a good choice as thats what it's designed for, the power amp for the c370.
    You could probably add more at a later date to to support you center and rears, and they can also be turned into mono blocks too, although i don't know why you would really want to at least wrt the power they provide normaly.
     
  3. bobbybox

    bobbybox
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    thanks gazbarber. Good advice I'm sure ;)
     
  4. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Personally I think bi-amping is rather over-rated. It's not that it doesn't improve the sound - it does - but people get inappropriately hung up on it, to my mind. You should never, ever ask the question "will this make my system sound better?" Instead you need to ask "out of all the possible things I could spend this amount of money on, which will give me the greatest improvement in sound quality?"

    To take a tangible exmple: suppose that you have a 200W amp and you're considering buying a second one and bi-amping. A pair of 200W amps will sound better than one. But a single 400W amp would probably sound better still.

    It depends where the problem is, and it also depends on how much of a single amp's output is used up by the speaker bass drivers compared with the midrange and tweeter. If it happens that the power is split roughly 50/50 then bi-amping will sound just as good as a single amp with twice the power. But that's typically not what happens. Usually the bass drivers use up a lot more of the power than the midrange and tweeter do.

    Suppose that the bass drivers use up 75% of the power. With a single 200W amp you've now got the bass drivers using about 150W, and the rest about 50W. If you bi-amp with a pair of 200W amps, the midrange and tweeter now have 200W to play with, which is more than they need, but the bass drivers have still only got 200W to draw on: not much of an improvement. But if you use a single 400W amp, the bass drivers can now draw 300-350W while the midrange and tweeter draw 50-100.

    So, if bass vs mid-range and tweeter really is a 50-50 split, using a single amp with double the power should sound just as good as bi-amping. But if there's a significant imbalance then a single amp with twice the power will sound better.

    There are the following caveats:

    1) This assumes that there is no other difference in performance between the 200W and 400W amps other than power output, e.g. no added distortion. Sometimes a higher-output amp may actually have lower distortion as well, in which case there's even less point in bi-amping.

    2) This assumes that the 400W amp can provide enough power to make the speaker completely comfortable. If even the 400W amp is struggling then it may be that the improvement in treble and mid-range produced by bi-amping is actually good enough to outweigh the poorer bass quality you get when compared with the 400W amp.

    3) It remains the case that two 200W amps will almost invariably sound better than a single 200W amp.

    4) Bi-amping is still (IMO) almost invariably superior to bridging.

    5) If a power amp can't produce enough current it will sound awful. But if a power amp does have enough power to drive the speaker without any clipping then (more often than not) it's probably the last component in the system you should be thinking about upgrading. If you spend the money on a better recording, a better source, a better pre-amp, better speakers, or better room acoustics, then the improvement you get to sound quality will probably be greater.
     
  5. pragmatic

    pragmatic
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    It is easier and sometimes desirable to bi-amp than upgrade an entire system though. For example my yamha 2500 is the second in line of the current yamaha line. To upgrade i would need to go to a Z9 which costs several times thew amount of the 2500. I can quite easily buy a second (or more) (power) amp and bi-amp which will not be that much of an increase in cost will still be several times cheaper than a Z9 and also provide a sound increase and power reserves for those sudden loud moments in films.

    If we had a linear progression of prices for amplifers so we paid double for double the performance and/or features then I would be in total agreement with you, but as this is not the case (is it ever) then i think that an integrated with a power amp is not the worst choice you can make and it can often be more convient then getting a entirely new system.

    Saying that if there is a product which is as good as the power and intergraded amp combo for around the same money then that might be the smart choice, i suppose it all depends on how much your willing to spend and the good thing about hi-fi/av is the ability add to what you alread have rather then having to replace everything.
     
  6. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Well, it varies. A Bryston 4B-SST has double the power output of a Bryston 3B-SST (300W vs 150W) but the price is "only" £2500 vs £1900. So a single 4B is a much better deal than a pair of a 3Bs. By contrast a 14B-SST costs about £5800, which is more than a pair of 4Bs: but probably the 14B would sound sufficiently much better (on really power hungry speakers, anyway) to justify the price difference.

    I'm not sure if you mean bypassing the integrated's power-amp stage entirely, or using it in parallel with a separate power amp. The other thing to say about bi-amping, of course, that the results tend to get screwy unless both amplifiers are very similar - in particular, unless they both have exactly the same gain.

    Again, whether you will get more benefit from an upgraded pre-amp stage or an upgraded power stage will vary a lot depending on what components you're talking about (and what the demands of the speakers are).
     
  7. pragmatic

    pragmatic
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    I think with all expensive purchases, you should research your options and the different products that are availabe. As you pointed out there are cases where there are better products for not that much more in real terms. In my expereice the mid range of any brand is usualy full of the best product for the money (at least from that brand) and they usualy have quite a few products that offer a performance increase for not much more cash. When things start to get higher end though the prices often seem to go crazy and the extra ounce of performance costs the earth it seems.

    In this case though, if bobbybox wanted to upgrade he could do alot worse than buying a c270 power amp, especialy for his money.
     

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